(This is a work in progress of a talk I will be giving next Sunday at church about my Walk to Emmaus)
My walk to Emmaus started many years ago and at the time I didn’t know my journey would take me to the Emmaus community. If the late Paul Harvey was to talk about the Walk to Emmaus, he would call it, The Rest of the Story”. The Walk to Emmaus gets its name from the story in Luke 24:13-35, which provides the central image for the three-day experience and follow-up for the Walk to Emmaus experience. That first Easter afternoon, after Christ had risen. He appeared to two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Luke 24:13-35 is the “Rest of the Story” of Easter.
May of us are on our own walk to Emmaus right now and we don’t even know it. Jesus is walking with us today and we don’t recognize him. Deep inside of our soul, we have a burning desire to know we are not alone. Most of us don’t listen to the inner voice we have, only to find out later in life it was Jesus all the while walking with us. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”.
I knew from a early age that I believed in God but what I didn’t know was how God shows his love and grace to us. I saw other couples who were living faithfully and setting the example but I didn’t have my eyes open to see my calling at the time. The call to love God and to serve with enthusiasm comes in the midst of many other demands and priorities. God’s call to me, was being arrested for 1st degree theft and facing 10 years in prison. I only had to serve one night in jail, that night I asked God not to save me but to keep me out of prison and if so; I would make it right with him. After my arrest I lost it all, I lost my job, my home, my family, broke my ankle and my mother had a bad stroke. I ended up living out of my van for a week and was very alone but knew God would take care of me. My biggest step in my walk was coming back to Grace United Methodist Church, the church where my mother attended. Once I walked in the doors, I knew I was home and not alone any more!
Shortly after returning to Grace (United Methodist Church), the church was offering a Bible study called “Experiencing God” and the timing was right. I had a hunger to know God better and learn more about the Bible. It was only a few weeks after starting this Bible study that the small group of people from church got to know me much better. One night about 4 weeks into the study, Elmer Becker said some thing about “looks like we have our next walk to Emmaus person”. I knew about the Walk to Emmaus from when Dan Hall give his talk and I didn’t really understand it but knew that someday I would be going on my own walk someday. That was some time ago and I was waiting for God to give me the invitation and it came from my Emmaus sponsor, Elmer Becker that night.
What was my Walk like? The first night was spent in silence as we focused on our attitude and examine our relationship with God. The meditation on the first morning introduced the days theme of God’s love and grace. Of all the messages we receive in life, the message of God’s love is the most healing and nurturing. Agape love describes unconditional love, love that is freely given and unrelated to our deserving it or earning it. It’s a self-sacrificing love that reflects total commitment to the one who is love.
My walk to Emmaus brought me a new awareness of community and unconditional love. What I learned the most was to let down the wall I had around me and let others love me for who I was. People who I didn’t even know was praying for me and friends who I thought I lost came to see me. Each day we got all kinds of Agape love! General Agape, table Agape, Chapel Agape and last but not lease the kitchen and food Agape! Friday nights candlelight service was one of the highlights for me. I don’t like to single out any one person but as I was walking into the Chapel Friday night the first person I saw was Dave Raim, a long lost friend who I thought I had lost!